WASHINGTON – Indicators like primary turnout and high levels of early voting already show that the midterm elections, just days away, could have the highest voter turnout in 50 years for a non-presidential election. And the participation of young people, which has failed to materialize in recent past elections, could be key. MitzVote, Hillel International’s non-partisan campaign to register first-time voters on college campuses across the United States, is part of the effort to increase civic engagement among young adults.
With just two weeks left before the midterm elections, MitzVote has entered its final phase: get-out-the-vote! More than 50 campus Hillels are hosting or co-sponsoring b’nai mitzvot style parties at the polls for in-person voting and for students voting by mail to send off absentee ballots together. These poll parties are proven to increase voter turnout by 4 percent.
As campus Hillels prepare to hold gatherings focused on Election Day, Hillel students are also holding the Jewish community in Pittsburgh in their hearts.
“In Jewish tradition, we hold moments of joy with moments of sadness,” Sheila Katz, vice president for student engagement and leadership at Hillel International. “This Shabbat, as we celebrate voting, we will also reflect and mourn the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh. By coming together as a community, we honor and remember the 11 Jewish lives lost and all those affected by this violent act. This weekend, we will show up for Shabbat and next week we will show up at the polls.”
Since its launch last month, campus Hillels have hosted voter registration drives, events and parties to engage nearly 700,000 students both on the ground and through social media. In addition, Hillel International’s MitzVote voter registration tool has engaged more than 15,000 college students through TurboVote, which helps individuals register to vote, request an absentee ballot, change their address, find their polling place or sign up for text alerts about future elections.
Since the launch of MitzVote, an unprecedented coalition of more than 70 campus Hillels and 25 national partner organizations, including MTV, Democracy Works, ADL, the Union for Reform Judaism, AJC, BBYO and more, have worked to improve voter turnout for Jewish college students.
The campaign kicked off with a social media video starring popular actors and comedians, including Joshua Malina, Lisa Edelstein, Odeya Rush, Michael Ian Black, Tim Meadows and HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky. Mimicking a bat mitzvah “mazel tov” video, friends and family in the video congratulate Hannah, a typical first-year college student, on her MitzVote. The video has been viewed nearly 200,000 times.
“Long before American democracy was born, Jews have been celebrating their b’nai mitzvah,” said Katz. “This campaign is creating a meaningful coming-of-age experience for all Americans who turn 18 and are eligible to vote.”
“Jews become adults in the eyes of the Jewish community at 13, but as Americans we come of age at 18, when we gain the right to vote,” said Jeremy Cronig, a Hillel student leader at The Ohio State University. “Yet there is no ritual to consecrate what we believe is an obligation of citizenship and no simcha to celebrate this act of patriotism and civic participation. With MitzVote, we are creating that for all Jewish college students.”
Learn more at https://www.mitz.vote/
Campus Hillels hosting poll parties for MitzVote include:
- Ohio University
- The Ohio State University
- University of Denver
- Metro Detroit
- Oberlin College
- UT Austin
- University of New Mexico
- University of Oregon
See a full list of MitzVote campuses: https://www.mitz.vote/campus/
Hillel International is proud to partner with the following organizations on MitzVote:
- Anti-Defamation League
- Alpha Epsilon Phi
- Alpha Epsilon Pi
- Big 10 Voting Challenge
- Democracy Works
- Foundation for Jewish Camp
- Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
- Repair the World
- Sigma Delta Tau
- Students Learn Students Vote
- Union for Reform Judaism Youth
- United Synagogue Youth
- Vote Together
- Young Invincibles
- Zeta Beta Tau
See a full list of partners here: https://www.mitz.vote/partners/
About Hillel International
Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.